A HOUSING department will help better address the country’s housing concerns than a mere coordinating council, said Chamber of Real Estate and Builders’ Association, Inc. (Creba) official.

One of the bills that Creba wants to push is the Department of Housing Bill, which had been pending for about 20 years now.

According to Creba executive director Sharmin Albacete, this bill had been certified as an urgent bill by past administrations but still did not make it into law.

“Creba is hopeful that having a Department of Housing and Development, rather than just a coordinating council that we have now for housing, the housing concerns of the nation will be better addressed by a department that is truly focused on delivering housing programs encompassing finance, administration, actual production, and better regulations for housing,” said Albacete.

By late 2015, the House of Representatives approved the creation of Department of Housing and Urban Development. House Bill (HB) 6194 was authored by House Committee on Housing and Urban Development Chairman Alfredo Benitez, Liberal Party (LP) representative Rodolfo Biazon, LP representative Jose Christopher Belmonte, Lakas representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Party-list representative Silvestre Bello III.

The HB has the objective of merging together the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB).

“What we would like the department to focus on are on four major aspects that are now spread out being implemented independently by several shelter agencies, some of them even Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs). So we would like to integrate all of these housing functions under a department of housing to make the entire process of housing, real estate development, and planning more systematic,” said Albacete.

As for their organization’s part, she said they had been relentless in pushing the passage of the bill most especially to the congressmen that they know or the congressmen of the areas they have chapters in.

Albacete said their organization understands that creation of a new department might require additional funding from the government, however, they are hopeful that with the recent creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) to answer an urgent need, the department of housing will also finally be pushed as well.

“(The urgent need) is also true for housing as well. There is no need for new funding because the key shelter agencies already have their own. What we only need to do is to integrate the functions, the funds, and administration and fashion it in a way that we will set the responsibilities and accountabilities of the secretary very clearly,” she said.

Meanwhile, Creba Public Relations Officer and 2017 National Convention Chairman Jocelyn Yumul believes that the constant appointment of the highest elected official of the opposing party of the elected president as HUDCC chair is one of the major reasons the creation of the department is always pending under different administrations.

“We have not been given priority in that area only because there really is no strength or strong influence by the head. We’re happy that at least, during this term the head of housing is a direct appointee of the president,” Yumul.

The appointment of Eduardo del Rosario as HUDCC chair in July followed the stepping down of Vice President Leni Robredo from the position.